1. Our work in the arts and creative industries builds international trust and understanding. 

2. It supports growth and prosperity, creating value for the UK. 

3. We work with ‘the new and the best’ to deliver a clearly defined set of outcomes.

Our work in the arts and creative industries builds international trust and understanding

From Jeremy Deller to the London Symphony Orchestra, the arts and creative industries are among the UK’s greatest assets. We share them with the world in order to: 

• inspire and develop arts professionals 

• refresh and challenge people’s perceptions of the UK 

• build trust in the people of the UK and support prosperity and security around the world 

• engage with people in places traditional diplomacy cannot easily reach.

Our work with artists in countries like Burma, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe gives the people of those countries a voice that can be heard around the world.

Our work in the arts and creative industries supports growth and prosperity, creating value for the UK

• We build opportunities for the UK arts and creative industries in fast-growing economies like Brazil, China, the Gulf States, India, Indonesia and Mexico. 

• We work with the best of British creative talent to deliver innovative, high-quality events that provide a showcase for UK artists and companies in new markets, while developing reciprocal opportunities for international artists and organisations to develop UK audiences. 

• By sharing the best of British culture with audiences around the world we present the UK as an attractive destination for tourism, education and investment. 

• We work with the arts and creative industries to develop strong, sustainable partnerships overseas and at home, delivering mutual economic benefit and contributing to global prosperity. 

The new and the best

By working with the new and the best we deliver a wide variety of projects globally. These projects deliver clear impact and legacy by referring to a clear set of outcomes: 

• artists prosper 

• skills develop 

• institutions prosper 

• audiences grow 

• the UK’s reputation grows 

We deliver these outcomes by working through a clear business model that defines our offer to arts professionals globally. We work as a creative convener or broker bringing artists and audiences together. Occasionally we work as a commissioner and producer. We take an entrepreneurial approach and seek partnership income, in-kind support and sponsorship from all appropriate sources. 

We work with partners to identify and develop new and emerging UK talent on the international stage. 


The arts and creative industries contribute £77 billion to the UK economy each year. The British Council promotes UK arts, creative entrepreneurship and skills development worldwide. 

In 2014-15 our arts work directly engaged with nearly 13 million people worldwide and reached another 4.7 million people through digital media, radio and television.

Recent international cultural partnerships 

We organise around 500 exhibitions, events, performances and programmes a year, working across the breadth and diversity of architecture, creative economy, dance, design, fashion, film, literature, music , skills development, theatre and visual arts. 

In Brazil we are running Transform, the British Council’s most ambitious arts and culture festival lasting from the London Olympics to Rio 2016. Artists including Antony Gormley, Brian Eno, Tracy Emin and the Royal Ballet have brought British creativity directly to 850,000 people, and via media outlets to 20 million more across Brazil. 

2015 saw the biggest ever programme of UK cultural projects take place across Mexico, celebrating British heritage and creativity through projects intertwining all art forms and highlighting inclusion and diversity.

Re-Imagine, India is a five-year initiative designed to re-imagine the UK–India relationship through arts and culture. A season in 2017 will feature major showcasing of UK arts, while the wider initiative focuses on longer-term relationship-building. 

UK-Nigeria 2015 is our largest programme of work in Nigeria. It aims to connect over forty million young Nigerians (aged 18 – 35) to the UK by building new audiences for UK and Nigerian arts and culture.

Projects and programmes 

With the British Film Institute, Arts Council England, the Arts Council of Wales, Arts Council Northern Ireland and Creative Scotland we started to deliver the UK strand of a new seven-year EC programme to support creative businesses. This programme will give UK media and culture organisations access to funds from a budget of €1.46 billion to develop their international work.

The Edinburgh Showcase is a biennial platform of contemporary UK performance featuring some of the most outstanding small and middle-scale touring productions. We use it to develop new international markets and collaborations for the UK arts sector, and bring key programmers, producers and agents to Edinburgh to see the work. 90 per cent of the shows featured are picked up by international promoters. 

Selector, our weekly radio show of the best new UK music, has over three million listeners around the world and broadcasts to more than 30 countries around the world including Mexico, Colombia, Uganda, Ukraine and China. 

The Creative Enterprise Programme is helping artists to prosper and enhancing the UK’s reputation in the creative industries. To date we have helped over 300 UK and overseas creative entrepreneurs to develop their business ideas, access new international networks and improve their knowledge and skills.

We organise and manage the official UK presence at the Venice Arts Biennale, showcasing British artists at the longest running, most prestigious international art show in the world. In 2015, Sarah Lucas exhibited I SCREAM DADDIO to great acclaim. In alternate years, we commission the pavilion for the Architecture Biennale. Shumi Bose, Jack Self and Finn Williams have been chosen to represent the UK In 2016 with the exhibition Home Economics that will explore the future of the home through a series of full-scale domestic interiors.

The British Council Collection is made up of over 8,500 artworks by British artists. The collection makes a major contribution to supporting our projects and contributes to a wide range of international exhibitions. It can be viewed online at http://collection.britishcouncil.org/ 


We are increasing investment in the British Council’s art collection, including the commission of a new work by Mark Wallinger, the creation of a new programme to take arts to audiences around the world online and the creation of a new skills development programme, which will become a core part of our offer to countries and organisations in the UK and around the world.